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# 7

Torsion of
Circular
Sections
71
Lecture 7: TORSION OF CIRCULAR SECTIONS
Page
7.1. Introduction 73
7.2. Problem Description 73
7.2.1. Terminology, Notation, Coordinate Systems . . . . . . . 73
7.2.2. Deformation of Torqued Shaft . . . . . . . . . . . 75
7.2.3. Stress and Strain Distributions . . . . . . . . . . . . 75
7.3. The Stress Formula 76
7.4. The Twist Rate And Angle Formulas 77
7.5. Torsion Failure Modes 78
7.5.1. Principal Stresses and Maximum Shear . . . . . . . . 78
7.5.2. Material Failure: Ductile Versus Brittle . . . . . . . . . 79
72
7.2 PROBLEM DESCRIPTION
7.1. Introduction
The present lecture begins a set of three classes on torsion. This topic is presented now to provide
timely theoretical support for the rst experimental Lab, which will be demoed on Friday Sept 21.
The rst lecture covers circular cross sections. These can be be treated by elementary (Mechanics
of Materials) methods that nonetheless provide the exact elasticity solution. The next two lectures
deal with Thin Wall (TW) cross sections of important in Aerospace. For these approximate methods
are necessary.
z
y
z
y
x
T(+)
T(+)
x
T(+)
T(+)
(a)
(b)
Figure 7.1. Torsion of a circular shaft: (a) Single-headed arrow (a.k.a. harpoon) representation and
(b) double-headed arrow vector representation for torque. Both symbols are used in this course.
7.2. Problem Description
This Section introduces the problem of a torqued member (shaft) of circular cross section (solid or
annular), and presents the necessary terminology.
7.2.1. Terminology, Notation, Coordinate Systems
We consider a bar-like, straight, prismatic structural member of constant cross section subjected to
applied torque T about its long axis, as pictured in Figure 7.1(a). This kind of member, designed
primarily to transmit torque, is called a shaft. Axis x is directed along the longitudinal shaft
dimension. The applied torque is shown as a moment about that axis. It is positive when it acts as
indicated, complying with the right-hand screw rule along the x direction. Axes y and z lie on a
cross section conventionally taken as origin.
Figure 7.1(b) shows an alternative picture of the torque as a double-headed arrow vector. We will
use this representation whenever it leads to a more convenient visualization.
An important use of shafts is to transmit power between parallel planes, as in automobile power
trains, electrical machinery, aircraft engines or helicopter rotors. See Figure 7.2.
In this lecture we restrict consideration to shafts of circular cross section that may be either solid
or hollow (annular, tubular), as pictured in Figure 7.3(a,b). If the shaft is solid, its radius is R. If
hollow, the exterior and interior radius are denoted by R
e
and R
i
, respectively.
In addition to the (x, y, z) Rectangular Cartesian Coordinate (RCC) system of Figure 7.1 we shall
also use often the cylindrical coordinate system (x, , ) depicted in Figure 7.3(c) for a typical
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Lecture 7: TORSION OF CIRCULAR SECTIONS
Figure 7.2. Transfering power between planes via torqued shafts.
2R
2R 2R
i e
x
y
z
P(x,,)

## Point P referred to cylindrical

coordinate system (looking at
cross section from +x down)
Cross sections considered in this lecture
(a) (b)
(c)
Figure 7.3. Circular cross sections considered in this Lecture, and coordinate systems.
(b) (a)
Figure 7.4. Visualizing deformations produced by torque.
74
7.2 PROBLEM DESCRIPTION
cross section. The position coordinates of an arbitrary shaft point P are x, y, z in RCC and x, ,
in cylindrical coordinates. Here is the radial coordinate (not a happy notation choice because of
potential confusion with density, but it is the symbol used in most Mechanics of Materials textbooks)
and the angular coordinate, taken positive CCW from y as shown. Note that
y = cos , z = sin . (7.1)
7.2.2. Deformation of Torqued Shaft
To visualize what happens when a circular shaft is torqued, consider rst the undeformed state
under zero torque. A rectangular-like mesh is marked on the surface as shown in Figure 7.4(a).
The rectangles have sides parallel to the longitudinal axis x and the circumferential direction .
Apply torque to the end sections. Rectangles marked in Figure 7.4(b) shear into parallelograms, as
illustrated in Figure 7.4(b). This diagram displays the main effect: shear stresses and associated
shear strains develop over the cylinders = constant. Next subsection goes into more details.
7.2.3. Stress and Strain Distributions
longitudinal
direction x

(a)
(b)
x

x
x
we will often call
= =
x
circumferential
direction
direction
Material element aligned with
cylindrical coordinate axes
T
T
All other stress
components
are zero
z
y
Figure 7.5. Extracting a (x, , )-aligned material element. The only nonzero stresses are
x
=
x
.
A material element aligned with the cylindrical coordinate axes is cut out as shown in Figure
7.5(a). The element is magnied in Figure 7.5(b), which plainly shows that the only nonzero stress
component on its faces is the shear stress
x
=
x
. It follows that the stress and strain matrices
referred to the cylindrical coordinate system have the form

0
x
0

x
0 0
0 0 0

Hookes law

0
x
0

x
0 0
0 0 0

(7.2)
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Lecture 7: TORSION OF CIRCULAR SECTIONS

x
T
T
x
x

d
=
x
=
x
90
dA = d d
Figure 7.6. Integration over the cross section of the elementary moment produced by the shear stress
component =
x
will balance the internal torque T.
The axes have been reordered as (x, , ) for convenience in identifying with plane stress and strain
later. In the sequel we often call =
x
=
x
, and =
x
=
x
to reduce subscript clutter.
Stresses and strains in (7.2) are connected at each material point by Hookes shear law
= G , =

G
, (7.3)
in which G is the shear modulus. Because of circular symmetry and do not depend on .
They may depend on x if either the cross section radius or the internal torque change along the
shaft length, but that variation will not be generally made explicit. We will assume (subject to a
posteriori verication) that and depend linearly on , and we scale that dependence as follows:
=

R

max
, =

R

max
(7.4)
Here
max
and
max
are maximum values of the shear stress and strain, respectively, over the cross
section. These occur at = R, the radius of the shaft. (For an annular shaft, R = R
e
, the exterior
7.3. The Stress Formula
Call T the internal torque acting on a cross section x = constant. The shear stress =
x
acting on
an elementary cross section area d A produces an elementary force dF = d A and an elementary
moment dM = dF = ( d A) about the x axis. See Figure 7.6 for the geometric details.
Integration of the elementary moment over the cross section must balance the internal torque:
T =

A
(shear stress elemental area) lever-arm
=

A
( d A) =

R

max
d A =

max
R

2
d A
=

max
R

2
( d d) =

max
R

3
d d =

max
J
R
,
(7.5)
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7.4 THE TWIST RATE AND ANGLE FORMULAS
T
T
A
B
B'
L

BA
at x
x
=( ) =( )
max max max x x

Figure 7.7. Twist deformation of a torqued circular shaft. Deformations and
rotations greatly exaggerated for visualization convenience.
in which
J =

2
d A =

3
d d, (7.6)
is the polar moment of inertia of the cross section about its center. Solving for
max
gives the stress
formula:

max
=
T R
J
, =

R

max
=
T
J
(7.7)
For a solid circular section of radius R, J =
1
2
R
4
. For an annular cross section of exterior radius
R
e
i
, J =
1
2
(R
4
e
R
4
i
).
7.4. The Twist Rate And Angle Formulas
A torqued shaft produces a relative rotation of one end respect to the other; see visualization in
Figure 7.4(b). This relative rotation is called the twist angle . The twist angle per unit of x-length
is called the twist rate d/dx. Often the design called for limitation on this rate or angle. It is thus
of interest to have expressions for both of them in terms of the applied torque and the properties of
the shaft. Geometric quantities used for working out those expressions are dened in Figure 7.7.
Note that innitesimal strains and rotations are assumed; deformations depicted in Figure 7.7 are
greatly exaggerated for visibility convenience. For small angles BB

R
BA
L
max
. At an
arbitrary distance x from the xed end, R x
max
whence = x
max
/R. Consequently the
twist rate is
d
dx
=

max
R
=

so =
d
dx
(7.8)
But according to Hookes law (7.3)
=

G
=
T
GJ
=
d
dx
(7.9)
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Lecture 7: TORSION OF CIRCULAR SECTIONS
6
Material: steel, G = 12 x 10 psi
Solid circular x section, R = 1 in
Fixed end
T = 5000 lbs-in
B
L = 50 in
A
Figure 7.8. Example calculation of maximum shear stress and twist angle.
which yields
d
dx
=
T
GJ
(7.10)
This is the twist rate formula. To nd the twist angle
BA
, where subscripts identify the angle
measurement endpoints, integrate along the length of the shaft:

BA
=
B

A
=
B
0 =
B
=

L
0
d =

L
0
d
dx
dx =

L
0
T
GJ
dx. (7.11)
If T, G and J are constant along the shaft:

BA
=
T
GJ

L
0
dx =
T L
GJ
(7.12)
This is the twist angle formula for a prismatic shaft.
Example 7.1. Data for this example is provided in Figure 7.8. Find: maximum shear stress
max
, maximum
shear strain
max
and relative twist angle
BA
.

max
=
T R
J
=
T R
1
2
R
4
=
5000
1.57
= 3183 psi (7.13)

max
=

max
G
=
3200 psi
12 10
6
psi

BA
=
T L
G J
=
5000 50
12 10
6
(
1
2
1
4
)

(7.15)
78
7.5 TORSION FAILURE MODES
(a)
(b)
(c)
Figure 7.9. Three failure modes of a torqued specimen: (a,b): material failure in solid shaft, (c): wall
buckling in thin walled tubular shaft.
7.5. Torsion Failure Modes
Shafts should be designed against possible failure modes. Three practically important ones are
sketched in Figure 7.9. Specimen (a) and (b) display two classical material failure modes in a solid
shaft, whereas (c) illustrates a wall buckling failure that may occur for hollow shafts if the wall is
too thin. Only the rst two modes are discussed here, since the last one requires knowledge of shell
buckling, which falls outside of the scope of this course.
7.5.1. Principal Stresses and Maximum Shear
As discussed in 7.2.2, the stress matrix at a point P(x, , ) referred to a cylindrical coordinate
system with axes reordered as (x, , ) takes the simple form

0 0
0 0
0 0 0

, =
x
=
x
=
max

R
,
max
=
T R
J
. (7.16)
We can observe that all points are in plate stress because all stresses with a subscript vanish,
although the shaft is not a thin plate. It is also in plane strain because the transverse strains (that
is, strain components with a subscript):

,
x
and

, are zero.
Since the shear stress is proportional to , we consider a point on the outer surface = R, where
=
max
. The Mohrs circle for stresses in the (x, ) plane passing through P(x, R, ) is shown
in Figure 7.10(a). By inspection we see that
(a) The principal stresses are
1
=
max
(tension) and
2
=
max
(compression). These occur
at 45

## from the longitudinal x direction.

(b) The maximum inplane shear is
max
, which occurs on the shaft cross sections.
Consideration of 3D effects does not change these ndings because the zero principal stress is the
intermediate one. Thus the circle plotted in Figure 7.10(a) is the outer one, and the maximum
overall shear stress
overall
max
is the same as the maximum inplane shear stress, that is,
i nplane
max
.
79
Lecture 7: TORSION OF CIRCULAR SECTIONS
T
T
45

## Ductile material failure

surface (plane of cross section)
Brittle material failure
surface (=helicoid)

max
max

max
1
=
max
2
(a) Mohr's circle for (x,) plane
at =R (outer shaft surface)
(b) Material failure surfaces for two
extreme cases: ductile vs. brittle
max
of circle
is
Figure 7.10. By inpection of the Mohr circle, maximum normal and shear stresses at a point on the
outer shaft surface determine the kind of material failure.
7.5.2. Material Failure: Ductile Versus Brittle
We are now in a position to explain the two material failure modes shown in Figure 7.9(a,b).
If the material is ductile, it fails by maximum shear
max
reaching yield, followed by post-yield
plastic ow. The failure surface is the cross section, as sketched in Figure 7.9(a). The picture in
7.11(a) shows a mild steel specimen taken to failure by torque.
If the material is brittle, it fails by maximum tensile stress, which is
1
=
max
. Since this occurs at
45

from the longitudinal direction, the fracture is more complicated and will look (at least near the
shaft outer surface) like a helicoid, as sketched in Figure 7.9(b). The photographs in Figure 7.11
show two fractured specimen fabricated of brittle materials: cast iron and chalk, respectively.
(b) Brittle failure by tensile
normal stress (cast iron)
(c) Brittle failure by tensile
normal stress (chalk)
(a) Ductile failure by shear
(mild steel)
Figure 7.11. Actual material failure observed in torqued specimen.
If the material is not isotropic, the failure process can be more involved than the two extreme cases
dicussed above. For example, wood and laminate composites may fail by delamination across
layers or bers.
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